With a year of experience under his belt and knowledge in his head, second-year Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Nick Herbig appears ready to take advantage of that second lap around the track, so to speak.

Following the conclusion of Organized Team Activities and mandatory minicamp, Herbig is playing fresher and “looks better” than he did in his rookie season — at least physically — according to Steelers outside linebackers coach Denzel Martin.

Speaking with the media last week following a minicamp practice, Martin spoke highly of Herbig, both from a physical and mentality aspect.

“He’s got a good training regimen with the guys back in Wisconsin. Brad Arnett, they do a great job with him out there,” Martin said of Herbig, according to video via the Steelers’ YouTube page. “There’s no questions. They have a nice plan set up for him every year that he goes out there, but they’re fine-tuning it and getting better at what he’s doing every summer. And it’s just…you just see it in his body.

“He’s playing fresher. He looks better. I like it.”

Herbig’s appearance has drawn some attention this offseason. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Brian Batko stated during OTAs that Herbig looks more like an NFL outside linebacker this offseason, and now Martin is praising how the former Wisconsin Badger looks entering Year 2.

Training with Brad Arnett at NX Level Athletics, which is the same place that T.J. Watt trains and where J.J. Watt once trained, is huge. Coming out of college, Herbig appeared a bit light in the pants, weighing in at just 240 pounds after playing at Wisconsin at just 230 pounds.

But that didn’t deter him in as a rookie. He put up 3.0 sacks, forced two fumbles and was an impactful rotational piece at outside linebacker for the Steelers, playing just 191 snaps defensively. He added another 352 snaps on special teams. His athleticism and flexibility are major traits to build off of.

Entering Year 2, Herbig is much more comfortable in the Steelers’ scheme, and Martin is seeing a maturity to his game.

“You just see it in his maturity, man. He’s just so much more mature,” Martin said of Herbig. “He just knows what’s coming, you know what I mean? He knows what to expect almost at this point. The plays don’t change.

“He just gets more fine-tuned with what he does, and you can see it out on the field.”

Knowing the scheme inside and out, having that confidence to just play fast and free, and having the game slow down are all key things for second-year players to experience in the NFL. From the sounds of it from Martin, that’s what is happening with Herbig, which is rather encouraging.

He burst onto the scene last summer in training camp and the preseason as a pass rusher. He carried it over into the regular season, giving the Steelers a real answer at OLB3 behind Watt and Alex Highsmith.

Martin is expecting a big jump from Herbig this season. So, too, is defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.

We’ll see how Martin and Austin are able to get Herbig onto the field for more snaps without taking snaps away from Watt and Highsmith, but right now one thing is clear: the Steelers have a very promising second-year linebacker they are developing in Herbig.


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